Conditions have never been better to find catch and release big gator trout. Most are caught with bait, a few with artificial lures, but sight fishing with a fly rod has to be the most exciting. Large yellow mouth trout usually are in very shallow water and occasionally with a few similar-sized friends. Find warmer shallow water containing baitfish. Adjacent deep water is usually necessary providing a safe escape route if needed. Late morning low tides, little wind and sun will raise the temperature of the shallows. Large trout can be very difficult to actually see. Many of these locations are impossible to access with a conventional boat. A canoe or a kayak is one of the best ways to cover large deeper areas on your way to the shallows. Tie it around your waist with a line while slowly walking in ankle-deep water. Large trout are very often close to shore. Use maps and charts to zero in on locations to investigate. Move slowly and look for fleeing baitfish, nervous water and fish shadows on the bottom. Long accurate casts with baitfish patterns should land softly on the water close enough to draw their attention. You will spook some fish, but remember where the lunkers were to develop a pattern for finding more. Don’t be surprised if some large snook are also in the same locations.
Fly fisherman Pat Damico charters Fly Guy in lower Tampa Bay and can be reached at captpatdamico.com and (727) 504-8649.